‘Dead Space 3′ Producer Defends Microstransactions

Jan 25, 2013 by  

Dead Space 3 Microtransactions

One of the most anticipated games of 2013Dead Space 3, continues to find itself shrouded in controversy. Some of the dedicated fanbase are still up in arms over the shifted focus towards action in the series and the inclusion of co-op gameplay.

The more recent example if displeasing fans was the unveil earlier this week that, like Mass Effect 3, Electronic Arts and developer Visceral Games have found a way to include microtransactions into the story campaign of Dead Space 3 by charging for additional resources within the game’s weapon crafting system. Rightfully, the reaction from media and gamers was on the negative side.

Visceral’s John Calhoun, producer on Dead Space 3, provided the following reasoning to CVG of the controversial microtransactions introduced with this installment:

“There’s a lot of players out there, especially players coming from mobile games, who are accustomed to micro-transactions. They’re like “I need this now, I want this now”. They need instant gratification. So we included that option in order to attract those players, so that if they’re 5000 Tungsten short of this upgrade, they can have it.”

But Dead Space 3 players are required to pay $60, no? That’s not the case for mobile games which – for the most part – are free, supported by microtransactions. Why is the cost of the video game higher for players who want what’s already in the game they purchased? Why should the developer and publisher get rewarded more financially because in-game items (in a game they already purchased) take time to acquire/earn/unlock? Does this not create a monetary incentive for EA in all of their games to make in-game rewards more difficult to acquire? Forcing players through a grind and slowing down progression equals more reason for gamers to feel forced to purchase “additional resources” to craft better items, right?

Dead Space 3 Weapon Crafting Microtransactions

Since when does player progression become an acceptable second pay wall? It’s a dangerous precedent, even if at first glance it may not seem a big deal because it’s not entirely “pay to win” and it’s absolutely optional, EA is trying to open the gates to profiting off of player progress, which they control by game design. If the game were free and players could acquire items or customization options via microtransactions then it would be justifiable, but it’s not. It’s an already-expensive $60 game. And charging more on top of that (for non-cosmetic items) for what the game already should (and does include) is anti-consumer and sets a very, very bad precedent.

Horse armor in Oblivion led to companies like Capcom locking out content on disc and charging more for it later. It created an incentive that encouraged developers like Epic Games to hold back content in Gears of War 3 (see: stupidly expensive weapon skins and season’s pass) behind pay walls, from gamers who forked out the money to support that company and play that game. What will this form of microstransactions lead to for the next-generation consoles? When do publishers start charging real-life cash for ammo packs mid-mission?

The Dead Space 3 crafting system upgrades can all be acquired through resources in game so the microtransactions are a way for EA to profit players to unlock them earlier. Calhoun continues, explaining that they’d never let microtransactions become a pay-to-win strategy and that providing options for players to pay more than $60 is somehow expanding their audience.

Dead Space 3 Weapon Crafting DLC

We would never make a game you have to pay to win. There are genres of games where that is the answer, and you know what? The world has spoken, they suck. We don’t want to make games that suck, we want to make games that people want to hold on to, to keep on their shelves. That is our mark of success.

But we need to make sure we’re expanding our audience as well. There are action game fans, and survival horror game fans, who are 19 and 20, and they’ve only played games on their smartphones, and micro-transactions are to them a standard part of gaming. It’s a different generation. So if we’re going to bring those people into our world, let’s speak their language, but let’s not alienate our fans at the same time.

Yes, the microstransactions are “optional.” That’s not the issue nor was it ever. Options are good. The issue is that another form of content is behind an pay wall and that EA (and the developers under them) have an incentive in their products to intentionally design games that encourage players into feeling they need to pay more real-life money to progress. The real problem, again, is the precedent it sets in how it affects game design in future titles.

The current generation of gamers don’t want more expensive games, John. This isn’t a good thing. I wonder if the next bit of news for the game involves an Online Pass for the co-op gameplay…

Dead Space 3 releases February 5, 2013 for the PC PS3, and Xbox 360.

-

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: CVG

42 Comments

Post a Comment

  1. well as a fan of the series, beating both part 1 and 2 i must say from the beginning of the announcement of dead space 3 with the addition of co-op i was on the fence, played the demo, loved it(single player) i didnt even try co-op, but hate that you can buy additional add on content for the game, its unnecessary and adds clutter. needless to say. i wont be buying this one. they lost a customer.

    • That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?

      I’m the kind of fan, of whatever I’m a fan of, that adapts to whatever the powers-that-be give me. I’m not a glutton for punishment, believe me you I will most certainly not be paying for resources unless I literally have extra Microsoft points lying around, and even that is unlikely. He has a point though: some people are going to jump at the opportunity to spend that ca$h, and it’s a good BUSINESS decision to include that option. It hasn’t changed my opinion of the game or Visceral, but this is not exactly a good character reference for them.

      • Actually Lopaka’s attitude isn’t harsh – it is exactly how a smart consumer should respond to this.

        They lost this customer as well and I had it preordered and paid off. I just transferred that cash to another (non-EA) game.

  2. This article outline the arguments I made against Capcom back when they only holding back extra costumes, I told people that compliance would lead to worse behavior from Capcom. But people are too short sighted to see how their actions will have adverse affects in the future.

    And guess what? Capcom ask players to buy “auto guard” in Street Fighter x Tekken. And if you were playing that game with a standard Xbox360 controller, then you were allowed to use guard as well as the players who bought “fightsticks” and “fightpads”

    I hope this doesn’t happen with Dead Space.

    • >>Spell checked version:

      This article outlines the arguments I made against Capcom back when they were only holding back extra costumes. I told people that compliance would lead to worse behavior from Capcom. But people are too short sighted to see how their actions will have adverse affects in the future.

      And guess what? Capcom asked players to buy “auto guard” in Street Fighter x Tekken. And if you were playing that game with a standard Xbox360 controller, then you weren’t allowed to use guard as well as the players who bought “fight-sticks” and “fight-pads”

      I hope this doesn’t happen with Dead Space.

  3. Gamers coming from mobiles… Bitch please.

  4. Gamers coming from mobiles… Lawl, what a dumb excuse

  5. I’m the type of person who likes to have everything in the game, especially when I purchase it new. But since EA is being an asshole and crapping on me with microtransactions. I may have to wait until this game cheapens up before I decide to purchase it.

  6. The Season Pass in Gears of War 3 was understandable. Instead of paying a total of 3600 points worth of money at four different times, you could instead pay 2400 at one time. I don’t see how that’s bad. That is a DECENT option for people like me that want to own everything in the game. It’s cheaper in the long run. I might be a bit tight for a week or two, but it pays off in the end. I do agree that the weapon skins were unreasonably priced, however, and that’s why I didn’t get any. Waste of points.

    However, things like this, which are indeed optional, can still be exploited by game designers who are tricky or clever with level design, which is what this article seems to really try to get at.

    Think of it this way. You’re in a REALLY difficult spot in the game. Almost no ammo and no health because of the previous spot. You might have only saved in one slot and don’t feel like starting the game over because you’re pretty far in.

    You have tried time and time again to get past this spot (which may have been designed to actually be just this difficult) but alas, you cannot. At least, not without spending extra money to get those last few parts you need to create a favorable weapon.

    That is the process of clever level design that could be exploited to draw people in to the desire to purchase items they wouldn’t otherwise need.

    Like the article says “Profit off of progress”

    It’s a very detestable idea, and game developers and publishers really need to stop that right now.

    • /agree my feelings exactly

    • I agree completely

      Remember when developers put in cheat codes to help us get through hard games??

      Those were the good old days

      • YES!
        THIS.

      • Damn commie developers. Giving socialist handouts to lazy gamers!

      • I really miss codes. You are correct, this is the profitable new model for what once was an expected feature that helped you scrape every bit of fun out of a cartridge. We pay much more, but we get a hell of a lot less. Compare the bonuses you can buy to an old fashioned, robust list of cheat codes and unlocks. That sort of expansive game tinkering was so much fun at its best, that I could see paying for it now because I miss it so much. When was the last time you turned on Big Head mode and made your bullets into paintballs and added infinite ammo to your bottomless backpack full of guns? (I bitch about this even more in my “2gun limit” page if you click my name…). Now we rarely get any outside the box twists or fun. Racing games unlocked mirror courses, Turok let you turn walls all rainbow colored, gravity and accuracy could be toggled, speed adjusted…. Where are all the game breaking and game enhancing gimmicks that bring you right back to the game you just beat because they are so interesting and fun? Saints row reminds me of this with the ability to turn off fall damage once you get enough exp. These things are actually worth money, but are usually not offered. Instead we get to pay several dollars for a new gun skin or some weak jive like that. How uninspired and lame!

        By the way, horse armor is actually pretty cool, aestheticly speaking. If you played hundreds of hours of Oblivion, you might like the two elegant sets you get. I do. The problem is that you can never get Shadowmere to go home again, so if you lose your horse, you may never ever find him again which totally sucks! And don’t try deleting your armour or he will turn invisible! What a mess. Not worth it, but still pretty.

  7. Defend all you want, microtransactions have no place in a console game. Leave that on Facebook games where they belong.

    • There is no defense, I think the nonsense this producer spouted proved that.

  8. I see where it is a bad thing but at the same time, I know that sometimes when I play a game I just wanna enjoy it. I don’t want to waste time aquiring all the items and what not. I.e. skate 3, you had the world fully open from the start. To me that was awesome because all I wanted to do in the game was skate. I didn’t really want to just do all the challenges to get this or that I wanted to just go my own pace and really enjoy the game. So EA release the tine saving pack which unlocked everything. I never bought it because I’m cheap. But I at least like having the option.

    • Should that not be a game option then? Perhaps a different mode from the start like most games choose difficulty?

      • Well the game does have difficulty settings so… Eh. My point is some gamers like playing but hate losing, allowing them to spend a few more bucks so they can have their flawless experience. Well I don’t see harm in that. If you don’t buy it, there is no issue. It becomes an issue when developers make it pay2win but I digress.

        • There is an issue. Because players who do not buy it are subject to potentially larger progression requirements to unlock in-game rewards.

          EA is profits more – literally – by making resources required for crafting for challenging to accumulate. I think you’re missing the point of the real issue.

          On top of that, the reasoning provided here can all be solved with cheat codes to unlock the crafting elements. Charging for it is anti-consumer and leads game design down a very dark path for the next console generation.

          • you know what? You are absolutely correct. Hell the only game I can think of that still has cheat codes is gta4.
            I see what you mean now.
            I can now say they are completely wrong for doing this.

          • Very true. Well put. People just aren’t going to give enough backlash to stop this growing, ugly trend. This is a great article, and holds the ridiculous marketing angles up to appropriate scrutiny. No, this is certainly not a GOOD thing, at all. No, they aren’t doing us a considerate favor by including the sad and dejected mobile player in on the fun, allowing him the comfort of micro transaction bliss. Give me a f***ing break. I want the game, but I won’t be paying premiums, and I wish that more outrage could stop this. At best we may hope to slow these realities by voicing our displeasure, but as the mobile game industry has proven, it only takes a handful of idiots to make a rip off plenty profitable for the swindlers. 60$ is PLENTY. If you ask for more the it should be for content that is well above and beyond the core game. Large expansions and game-changing ideas are welcome to ask me for more, but as an expensive alternative to the good old cheat code this sort of gouging is an insult. It says that they think we are stupid, and since too many of us are, I think it will only really get worse. The idea that I need to put in six different 30 digit codes and then download all my special access privileges when I buy a new game shows just how busted the system is and how badly they will inconvenience and punish the consumer who just gave them sixty bucks! At least Ubisoft is trying to make some fun bonus content that rewards you for the annoyance and tedium. An hour of code typing isn’t really worth an extra sword and a dashboard theme, but its a step in a better direction. More carrots, (like surprisingly clever game enhancements), and fewer sticks (additional charges and time wasted). Thanks for speaking the harsh truth.

  9. I’m quite afraid that this whole microtransaction crap is catching on. Soon every game will be pay2win.

    There will probably be an active chating scene trying to getting around those restrictions. Soon enough EA will find a way to make even SP savegame manipulation on PC illegal, even though the files clearly are the property of the gamer.

  10. i dont see the big deal just use the plasma and line gun and you can breeze through as long as yer not a dum s***

    • true that

  11. This decision by EA has made me cancel my preorder for this game. Dead Space 2 was good – guess that’s where it ends for me.

    • That’s exactly what I’m headed down to do in the morning, cancel my DS3 pre-order. I’ll get by with something else, maybe buy a used copy of NBA2k or something.

  12. if Borderlands 2 can offer me 18 bazillion guns with no micro transactions, why Dead Space think its in their best interest to add it now, wasnt in the first 2…

    its because the series is on the fence, so they’re gonna milk it, mark my words. if the game dont sell well, you wont see anymore Dead Space titles, they better hope it sell like hot cakes the first week, cause it will die down once the word is out to the masses.

  13. Any smart person would invest time into the game to find items rather than spend actual money for said items. They’re already built into the game. It’s the same story with Mass Effect 3′s co-op. You don’t get better gear when you spend actual money on it. This is a deliberate attempt by EA at trying to milk the consumer for even more money for things you an get in-game.

  14. Thank you so much for illustrating exactly why this is a problem. Although this particular instance of microtransactions isn’t really much of a nuisance, it’s laying the foundation for future manipulation. The scary part to me is that they don’t even act like it’s a shady deal anymore. They talk like it’s a great alternative, like the back of the box will have a list of features with “go online and buy weapons for instant gratification!”.

    As Melvin said above, there was a time when every game came with awesome cheat codes. This not only boosted the replayablility of the game by giving you silly new ways of playing, but allowed abilities like unlocking weapons for the lazy undeserving idiots that this game is catering to… AND they did it without alienating their core audience.

    I think the “smartphone generation” justification is about the saddest thought process I’ve heard in a while… I have got to see the people they’re marketing this to… “So, I’m 20 years old and I just LOVE action and survival horror games… but I’ve run out of games on my smartphone and I NEED a new game to play. I’ve never tried one of these ‘gaming consoles’ before but I’m told that they also play games like the awesome ones on my mobile. Wait, what’s this? Dead Space 3, eh? I think one of my friends played the first two and said they were pretty good, but he also said that you have to like, play through the game to get more weapons… that’s not really my speed, I like the instant gratification that I’m used to and- whaaaa? Just BUY the guns with my real money instead engaging myself intellectually, and using the experience gained while grinding to become ultimately better at the game in the long run, thus making it more fulfilling and enjoyable? Sold!”

    …something tells me that Dead Space may not be a good franchise for this kid.

  15. Dead Space 1- Stuck with Plasma cutter the entire game because of the drops and damage.

    Dead Space 2- Plasma Cutter REFURBISHED, my baby is BACK! 1 gun 5,000 limbs!

    Dead Space 3- Plasma Cutter T1000, crafting my refurbished cutter and secretly save humanity once again.

    Don’t need another gun, who cares about the Microtrans… it’s an “option”, same as co-op. If you are a lazy bum and don’t want to throw in hours looking for the parts, then pay with your pancaked behind. If you an hardcore player, then just go out and look for the parts… People are complaining about the co-op as well, it’s an option… if you are a loner, feel free to go emo killing necros, but if you ever wondered after beating Dead Space 1-2 on Zealot and above, to play with a friend, experience this opportunity to do just that.

    Hell the developers need to make money as well, be thankful they didn’t go full on FPS with a side of camp-to-win. Look at the current gaming market, FPS are currently leading with the same old features. Just because a small number of people are butt-hurt about a little change, doesn’t mean the game will be terrible. Play the Demo, single player is STILL scary and co-op is fun as well.

    If the players want to pay that extra money for something they don’t want to spend hours upon hours scavenging for, then so be it, they now have the OPTION to do it. It’s not affecting your playthrough is it? I’m not going to pay for that stuff because that is just silly =P, but for players needing conviency and what to make it rain on those necros, then BING, there you go! Devs make some money and everybody is HAPPY.

    By the way, do you guys know why the next gen consoles will not allow used games to run on the new systems? Guess… Because DEVs are not making money towards used games. Studios either have to merge or close because they have failed to make sells. These developers deserve a lot more respect and vice versa for them as well. Alot of players want to see something new or they will jump back on their fps and grind away to max level. Don’t fear the NEW Co-op, don’t fear the Microtrans, DO NOT FEAR FOR IT IS ALL OPTIONAL, BUT DO INDEED PREPARE TO FEAR WHAT AWAITS IN DEAD SPACE 3!!! Comming Soon February 5, 2013!

    • Studios have to merge and close because they waste resources trying to cater to trends that don’t fit their games, like putting co-op in a game which is fundamentally about isolation. They also set themselves up to bank on DLC as an integral part of their profits when it shouldn’t be. Poor decisions are putting developers down, not used games. The problem with microtransactions being an option is that the second the publishers smell extra money it will become standard and then games will be made to revolve around those transactions just as we’re seeing happen with DLC now. Therefore it’s very probable that this WILL affect our playthroughs in the future.

    • You have missed the point in several ways here. Not that you have no point, but it’s rather unbalanced. Firstly, they ARE making money, already even. That’s why they make the games, after all. Let’s not pretend that this new gouge will finally allow game companies to make a little profit for once, and we should be happy. There’s plenty of profit, it just doesnt always go to the talent or the artists. A for it being so wonderfully optional… The co op focus may well prove to be a shift in the solo intensity. Any new focus has the ability to skew or dilute the old. When a great solo franchise spends time and money on co op or multi player, the effect is very often a diminishing of time, resources, effort and money going to the core game. This happened when Splinter Cell branched out, and ignoring the multiplayer parts of that series did nothing to counteract the increasing brevity of the solo game. Other series manage better, but there is always an issue of this widening focus and it’s many potential consequences. Being made with co op in mind may be a distraction or a shift in priority that damages the game or series for some people. That disappointment, unlike the new modes, is not optional. Furthermore, if a game is built with micro transactions in mind, as the writer of the article so astutely pointed out, then there will be game design decisions which are skewed to encourage these purchases. Games are built now to be less than fulfilling, tempting you with the possibilities of how fun the game could be if you just payed a little more for it than you already may have. It is a design philosophy that maximizes the need to pay, and tries to make the core game just fun enough to keep you playing until you pay more money for the real payoff that awaits you. It very unhealthy thinking, it hurts games as well as gamers, it weakens the artistic integrity of this artful medium, and none of this can be solved by just ignoring it. Read the article again maybe, and educate yourself on the complexity, because your decisions will dictate the future as well.

      • Well said sir. So many titles suck after adding multiplayer, coop and Kinect. I’ve had enough and will not buy this game.

  16. I completely agree with people saying that smart consumers don’t like micro-transactions. It can become very easy to look elsewhere (other games) for my entertainment that don’t have micro-transactions in them. If companies want to say that $60 isn’t enough for their games, then the consumer can certainly not buy those companies products which includes me. As consumers get more and more fed up with nickel and diming after purchasing a supposedly full game, companies will feel it by selling less product overall which of course will result in less profit. You can tell of course where that trickle down effect would continue to and it isn’t good for the industry. If theres less games out there, then so be it, we’ll look to extend out what we do have and simply enjoy that. Not a bad thing since I already own and buy more games than I have time for. I don’t like the direction some companies are taking gaming and that’s a sad thing since they’ll be running themselves out of business resulting in less choices. But, I will be able to adjust.

    • I applaud your standards and methods. If many millions act as you do then maybe someone will take serious notice. It does happen after all. Sadly it is more likely that you are effectively telling Bill Gatesthat you refuse to buy a Zune, which is to say he never noticed your boycott and he will get over it rather easily. Are there more fans with your integrity, or are there more with low brain power and a credit card? The odds are not in our favor that smart people will prevail on the consumer side. Whole games now are profiting from idiots exclusively. There’s a lot of cash in it…

  17. You have all the money in the world.But theres something you still want.More of it.

  18. I just noticed that the s in space is a dollar sign thats kind of a kick in the balls

    • Ha! Guess they couldn’t resist telegraphing what was on their minds…

      • That was me and my mediocre Photoshop skills ;)

        • NIce!!

  19. I think its disgusting, thats EA games for you and what they stand for. I wont be buying deadspace 3 thats for sure.

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.